SARASOTA, Fla. - The Legacy Trail in Sarasota County attracts users of all ages and a lot of cyclists, including Neil Ferguson.
"It gives the freedom for cyclists and long road users to be in a safe place in a long stretch as well. We can go all the way from downtown Sarasota to Venice," he said.
At breaks in the trail, like at Bee Ridge Road, crosswalks are used.
"You’ve got six lanes of traffic here. Same at Laurel, same as Clark, there’s just more risk involved," said Ferguson.
At certain times, drivers and pedestrians appear to get caught up.
"Certainly you can see when someone hasn't spotted the red light or reverse when the cyclists go across without pushing the button, so it can be a two way street on that problem, it can either be cyclists or cars that can cause issues," said Ferguson.
That’s why the Florida Department of Transportation is installing two pedestrian bridges where the trail crosses high traffic areas. One will be at Bee Ridge Road and the other at Clark.
"We are really hoping at the end of the day that those folks driving on Clark and Bee Ridge will continue on with their day, and they’re not impeding traffic and also pedestrians and cyclists are able to cross safely," said Adra Diggs, the FDOT district design engineer.
As the Legacy Trail continues to gain popularity, FDOT wants to keep people safe.
"Really what we are searching for here is a win-win for the users of the roadway systems separation in between bicyclists and pedestrians," said Diggs.
Those on the trail may even spot Sarasota County deputies, including some on horseback. They are working to make sure trail speeds and etiquette are followed, which makes riders like Venice resident Dot Diehl happy.
"It’s safer for us to ride on big time," said Diehl.
FDOT said it will take 24 months of construction for both bridges to be completed. A lot of the work will be done overnight, to avoid any closures of the trail.